Tribal summit of the ‘7 mountains’ tackles climate change

A datu (tribal leader) from Claveria, Misamis Oriental stands to stress a point in one of the sessions of the summit held from December 13 to 15 at the Daraghuyan Heritage Center in Olangohon, Damitan, Dalwangan, Malaybalay City| Bukidnon News photo by Rogielane Arombo

DALWANGAN, Malaybalay City (Bukidnon News.Net/17 December) Tribal leaders  from seven mountains in Northern Mindanao tackled disaster and disaster risk reduction in the community level in a three-day summit here initiated by Bukidnon Daraghuyan head claimant and spiritual leader Bae Inatlawan Adelina Tarino.

The summit gathered about 70 tribal leaders from indigenous communities in seven mountains in the region namely, Kitanglad, Kalatungan, Pantaron, Kimangkil, Kalanawan, Sumagaya, and Pamalihi.

“The biggest achievement so far is that the baylans (ritualists) were able to hold a major ritual to appease the spirits of nature to stop disasters,” Tarino said Saturday, the last of three days.

For the tribes, Tarino added, natural disasters and calamities are caused by human abuses and the only thing that can stop it from coming is for people to unite, correct mistakes, and appease the spirits.

Tarino added that the wrath carried by the disasters, like Pablo, have become too heavy and unbearable to humans.

“That is why we needed to gather together, because one or a few baylans cannot sustain the conduct of the ritual,” she added.

The ritual, Kaliga, which is a rite for thanksgiving was held overnight outside the tribe’s Tulugan or heritage center in Olangohon, a village at the foot of Mt. Kitanglad in Damitan, Dalwangan village.

The summit covered presentations on climate change, reflections on the tribes’ situation, hazards and disasters, and the value of nature and ecosystems services, an assessment workshop on the hazards in the communities.

Among the hazards in the communities cited by participants include landslide, flood, storms, earthquakes, volcanic eruption, mining, logging, hunger, selling of lands, pest attacks, chemicals in plantations inside the domain, militarization and bombing, violations to truce by the communist and Moro rebels, abuse of sacred sites, entry to ancestral domain of non-Lumads, and religions inside their territory, entry of investors without free and prior informed consent, among others.

The participants also cited “anit” or “gava” (curse) as another problem encountered by the tribes.

One of the examples cited for violations is the entry of a Davao City-based construction firm in Impasug-ong for a road project. The firm quarried an area, Pigtabidan (junction of rivers) considered by the Higaonons as a sacred ground.

Samuel Cadavos, Bukidnon Environment and Natural Resources Office chief, told the summit that they did not grant a quarry permit to the firm.

In their responses, participants cited the need to strengthen and conserve their culture’s customs and traditions like the holding of rituals as spiritual undertakings.  They also cited the need for tribal education through the establishment of tribal schools.

Another common response was for the Lumad’s to exercise self governance and the protection of their territory through their ancestral domain.

Another response focused on the strengthening of the community with the guidance of the council of elders and other leaders.  All of the four common responses connect to the need for the tribe to respect their culture and their spirituality.

Bae Inatlawan Adelina Tarino, spiritual leader of the Bukidnon Daraghuyan tribe, speaks in the closing session of the Tribal Summit of the ‘7 mountains’ held from December 13 to 15, 2012| Bukidnon News photo by Walter Balane

The summit also became an opportunity for tribal leaders to share notes on their initiatives to address the problems at their level.

Datu Djimboy Catawanan of the Matigasalug tribe in Simsimon, San Fernando town said he learned from the discussions about disaster and disaster risk reduction in the community level.

Catawanan, the 35-year old leader of the people’s organization called SOLEDKI (Solidarity of People in the Community as the way to the Development of the Ancestral Land), said there is a need to take care of the environment “while it is still there.”

SOLEDKI is composed of 12 communities. In 2003, the tribe’s claim to at least 5,000 hectares of ancestral domain was granted as part of the Certificate of Ancestral Domain Title (CADT) awarded to the Federation of Matigsalug-Manobo Tribal Councils (Femmatrics).

“As we go home, we bring the resolve to come up with a concrete step to address conditions of climate change in our community,” he said in the closing session.

Simsimon is identified to be a flood prone area based on the residents experience with typhoon Pablo earlier this month, he told this reporter.

Security is also another problem confronting the Lumad.

Manobo tribal leader Datu Ampuan Jeodoro Sulda lamented the New People’s Army for their alleged threat to the Lumad leaders.

“Our call to the NPA is for them to be true to their claim that they protect those who are oppressed. Look at the Lumad, also oppressed. Respect us,” he said.

The NPA, Sulda added, should spare the Lumad against threats to their lives.  The Secretariat of the summit cited at least five tribal leaders who were unable to attend due to security threats, reportedly coming from the rebels.

The Lumads, however, will not subject them to sala (indigenous justice system), he stressed.

The summit, co-convened by the Kitanglad Integrated NGOs, became an opportunity for the tribal leaders to update, learn the lessons from each other, and offer gifts from their resources.

Tarino received a hand woven mat made of “sud-sud” grass. As is tradition, she returned the favor with hinabol or woven abaca. She also handed most of the participants with wrist bands made of different indigenous materials.

She said the bands will protect the user from harm.  (Walter I. Balane/Bukidnon News.Net)